Prudence rushed by, anxious to meet up with her father. The connecting corridor was long and almost featureless. At the far end was a door. “Wait up! I got a little smoke grenade. We can make us some confusion.” Prudence gasped and pushed open the door. Roark called over his shoulder, “No can do. Friendlys.”
“What? Has the ship docked? Are we so far behind schedule?” Miss V pushed past me.
“But I got a smoke bomb. It’ll be great.” I sighed and put the grenade back in my pack. I kept the Chemplast and the detonator, just in case. As I squeezed behind Miss V, I could see the scene. I recognized Elias Wingate from the Coretex. He was hung upside down from chains. He had obviously been beaten.
“Doc! We need you up here!” Roark gripped his pistol tightly and stepped into the room. He fired a shot and then nothing.
What the hell? I thought. I gotta see what’s happening. So I moved past Miss V. She grabbed at my arm but I shrugged her off. I stepped into the room and to the left, to be out of Roark’s line of fire.The Doc came in right behind me, heading for Wingate.
“I said ‘Nobody move.'” At that moment I realized there was a very tall man in black with a gun pointed at Mr. Wingate. Prudence was sobbing and holding her father’s hand.
“Smooth move there, Swei. Way to pay attention.” Roark grinned at me.
There was something antsy about the tall man. I had a gut feeling that I could push the situation. “You tell me where my brother is, you bastard! I know he’s here and you better bring him, pronto.” I gripped the Chemplast. “Or there’ll be trouble.”
The tall man sighed. In a low and dangerous voice he said “I have had enough. Enough theatrics. Enough shooting and enough tears. Everyone is going to stay calm. Understood?” He swung the gun towards me. “You! Drop the explosives. Now!” He fired a shot at the ceiling to punctuate his command.
I quickly complied, only to see chemicals from a ceiling pipe gush down on the tall man. Roark took advantage and fired a shot. He missed. Miss V grabbed Roark’s rifle. “Automatic weapons are so unsporting.” I heard her say as she fired three bullets into the man.
Prudence and Imago struggled to free Mr. Wingate from his chains. I could hear the tearful reunion between father and daughter and it made me uncomfortable. I was glad to realize where we were. “This is the warden’s office! Where is that sonofabitch? Roark? You with me? Payback time.” I slammed open the office door and …. nothing. “Hump. He ain’t here.” Roark looked around. “But maybe he left some valuables.”
“Very true, my friend.” I went over to the filing cabinets. “There are probably prisoner records. I can find out about Chang.”
Roark paused in prying open a drawer. “I was thinking more like…. gold and guns and such. But you enjoy yourself there, Cookie.” Roark happily resumed looting.
I loaded up a Grav-cart with several crates worth of documents. I’d have plenty of time in the black to study them. As I was wheeling them out of the office, we heard a voice come over the speakers. “Quit stalling. Where’s my money, Rejovic?”
Prudence grabbed her father’s arm. “Black? He’s here? Oh crap.”
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